Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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10 Black Women in Gaming You Need to Know

In the 1980s French-Caribbean game developer Muriel Tramis would make history as the first Black woman game designer. After studying engineering at the Higher Institute of Electronics in Paris and spending five years at the aerospace company Aerospatiale, she joined the video game company Coktel Vison. There, she created her first games: the 1986 point and click adventure game Méwilo and the 1988 adventure strategy game Freedom.

Both of Muriel Tramis’ early games were inspired by Martinican legends and cultures and their legacy can be seen in games made by contemporary Black developers such as the point and click adventure game Dot’s Home and the action-adventure RPG Aurion Legacy of The Kori-Odan

Today, there are dozens of Black women not only making games, but also creating video game communities, video game mods, or spreading the word about the games that they love playing.

Here are 10 Black women in the gaming industry everyone should know about for Black History Month and beyond.

Tanya Depass
Tanya Depass

Tanya Depass

Tanya Depass is the founder and director of I Need Diverse Games, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting diversity in various gaming fields. She is also the creator, creative director, and co-designer of the tabletop RPG Into the Mother Lands. In addition to this, she has also served as the programming coordinator and diversity liaison at the non-profit organization Gaymer X and as a cast member of the Dungeons and Dragons livestream show Rivals of Waterdeep.

Jay Ann Lopez
Jay Ann Lopez

Jay Ann Lopez

Jay Ann Lopez is the CEO of Black Girl Gamers, a “community-powered business” founded in 2015. Black Girl Gamers’ primary aim is connecting Black women gamers worldwide to each other and with brands that literally level up their gaming. Her most recent venture with Black Girl Gamers involved a 2020 partnership with Spotify to create the gaming playlist Startselect in order to make a fun music playlist to game to, and combat gaming stereotypes. 

In addition to her work at BGG, Lopez is also a UK-based beauty influencer, games consultant, and presenter for GTV. 

Keisha Howard
Keisha Howard

Keisha Howard

Keisha Howard is the founder of Sugar Gamers, an advocacy and networking group for gamers of marginalized identities. This includes not only those who play video games, but also developers, writers, artists, and more. Some of Sugar Gamers’ past projects include the open-source multimedia experience Project Violacea and the hybrid live-and-augmented sports arena known as Tachyon League. Through her work at Sugar Gamers’, Howard has made appearances at Syfy Channel’s Robot Combat League and given Ted Talks on gaming and technology.

Latoya Peterson

Latoya Peterson

Latoya Peterson is co-founder, the chief experience officer, and technology director for Glow Up Games, a gaming company with a POC-led team. Glow Up Games’ most recent project is the mobile life stimulation hip-hop game Insecure: The Come Up, which is directly inspired from Issa Rae’s hit television show Insecure. In addition to her work at Glow Up Games’, Peterson is also a prolific and award-winning race and culture writer for places such as Kotaku and the New York Times as well as a three-time judge at the World Video Game Hall of Flame.

Amira Virgil

Amira Virgil

Also known by her online moniker XMiramira, Amira Virgil developed skin-tone mods for players of color who enjoyed the life simulation game, The Sims. After playing the series for two years, Virgil noticed how hard it was to make Sim characters with a specific skin tone. To that end, she created The Melanin Pack, a mod that comes with tan, medium, and dark skin tones for character customization. 

In August 2020, Virgil also campaigned with other Black Simmers in order to get Electronic Arts (the developer of The Sims’ games) to incorporate better skin tones and the fruit of that effort was released in December 2020 to The Sims 4

Lady Pelvic
Lady Pelvic

Lady Pelvic

Through her online moniker Lady Pelvic and her Youtube channel Pelvic Gaming, Amber Herring has expressed her love of video games to over 40,000 subscribers. Since 2015, Herring has discussed JRPGs through top five videos, reviews, and commentary on video game conventions such as E3 and Nintendo Direct. From time to time, she also collaborates with other gaming YouTubers such as Eric Landon and Ash Paulsen.

Black Women Gaming
Catt Small

Catt Small

Catt Small is one of the organizers of the Game Developers of Color Expo, an annually held business convention that gives game developers of colors a chance to showcase their creations and build their network. Since its initial event in 2016, the Game Developers of Color Expo has worked with top gaming brands and companies such as Xbox, Nintendo, and Niantic. 

In addition to organizing a space for other game developers, Smalls has also worked on her own games such as the slice-of-life game Sweetheart and the narrative game Sense U

Black Women Gaming
Momo Pixel

Momo Pixel

Momo Pixel is a game designer best known for creating her award-winning game Hair Nah, a travel game about a Black woman who is tired of people touching her hair. Her most recent work is the AR game filter for Google Play called Change The Game, which was partly inspired by the obstacles young Black girls face in the gaming industry. By making these obstacles part of an actual video game with a young girl of color as the lead, Momo Pixel hopes to give other girls the inspiration they need to persevere as game developers.  

Black Women Gaming
Stephanie Ijoma

Stephanie Ijoma

Stephanie Ijoma is the founder of NNESAGA, the UK’s leading gaming and entertainment platform that helps Black and minority gamers in the UK get the platform and resources they need in order to thrive in the gaming industry. With NNESAGA, Ijoma has also been a gaming consultant and events producer, working with companies such as Google, Sony Playstation, and Xbox. 

Besides her work at NNESAGA, Ijoma is also a Twitch streamer.

Black Women Gaming
Brittney M. Morris

Brittney M. Morris

Brittney N. Morris is a novelist and games narrative designer. As a narrative designer, she has worked on the survival game Subnautica Below Zero and was recently hired by Insomniac to work on the upcoming game Spider-Man 2. Her role as a writer on Spider-Man 2 will allow her to draw from her previous Spider-Man related work project, the Miles Morales game prequel novel Wings of Fury. In addition to her games writing, Morris is also the author of the young adult novel Slay, which tells the story of a teen Black girl game developer battling an online troll.

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